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Professor Andrew Scholey


Issue One, 2012 The magazine of Swinburne University of Technology, John St (PO Box 218), Hawthorn Victoria 3122 Australia EdITOrIAl ENQUIrIES Liz Tunnecliffe Corporate Publications Swinburne University of Technology tel: 1300 275 788 email: esubscribe for free access to current and past issues online:


COUrSES tel: 1300 275 794 INdUSTry rESEArCH ENQUIrIES Dr Bruce Whan tel: +61 3 9214 5979 email:



Professors Russell Crawford and Elena Ivanova

PhD student Morshed Alam

for iPad

available now from the itunes App store

Professor Alexander Babanin: Director of Swinburne’s Centre for Ocean Engineering, Science and Technology

INdUSTry STUdENT PlACEmENTS tel: +61 3 9214 5766 email: PHIlANTHrOPy Michael Grigoletto tel: +61 3 9214 8734 email: CrICOS Provider Code 00111d

Venture is published three times a year for Swinburne University of Technology by Hardie Grant media Ground level, Building 1 658 Church Street, richmond Victoria 3121 Australia PUBlISHEr Keri Freeman EdITOr Helen Withycombe ArT dIrECTOr Glenn Moffatt PrINT Offset Alpine POrTrAIT PHOTOGrAPHy Eamon Gallagher COVEr Corbis Images

Printed on PEFC Certified paper from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources. ISSN 2200-6338 Copyright © Swinburne University of Technology All rights reserved. The information in this publication was correct at the time of going to press, June 2012. The views expressed by contributors in this publication are not necessarily those of Swinburne University of Technology.

14 coVeR stoRY


Dr Dori Tunstall, international branding expert

4 News Stay up to date with Swinburne’s latest innovations and events.

perfect storm

6 INspIred by Nature Using plant leaves and tea tree oil, researchers are working to improve the post-surgical recovery of people undergoing medical implants.

Swinburne leads an international conversation about how to better predict and protect against extreme weather events.

9 save your braIN A new study explores how age-old dietary supplements may help to slow the rate of cognitive decline. 13

goINg global Today’s students are not just well-read, but well-travelled. recent graduates who joined the international throng tell of their experiences.


IllumINatINg humaN Nature The power of brands and our relationship to them actually speaks volumes about who we are as individuals.


Dr Joseph Ciorciari

16 NeuromaNtIc marketers are using neuroscience to create advertising which literally gets inside your head. 18 takINg the heat Student researchers at OneSteel have significantly reduced the energy – and cost – required to recycle steel.

20 INNovatIoN rescue Breathing new life into Australian manufacturing.

21 creatIve sparks Swinburne’s research and development accelerator program pairs students with technology businesses in need of solutions – with exciting results. 22 INdustry + uNIversIty Two case studies illustrate the rewards a strong relationship between industry and a university can reap.

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SolAr power breAkthrough

The vision of buildings powered entirely by sunlight captured by windows is rapidly moving to reality with researchers from Swinburne and Suntech Power Holdings developing the world’s most efficient thin film solar cells. Professor Min Gu, Director of Swinburne’s Centre for Micro-Photonics and the Victoria-Suntech Advanced Solar Facility says the rapid development of the new broadband nanoplasmonic solar cell technology over the past 18 months put the team on track to achieve their goal of solar cells that are twice as efficient and run at half the cost of those currently available. foR AN INSIGHT INTo THIS SUcceSSfUL PARTNeRSHIP TURN To PAGe 23

A commitment to innovAtion And collAborAtion


t Swinburne, we work hard to ensure that our students have a diverse and quality educational experience. We continue to support industry-based learning, international exchange and research partnerships so that the skills students gain can be used in their careers and as part of life-long learning.

Recent results from the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2011 positioned us among the top 100 universities worldwide in the field of physics, while the QS World University Rankings 2011 placed us in the top three per cent of universities in the world. This outcome is underpinned by our innovative approach to research development and quality education, as we continue to strive for success and achieve excellence in the pursuit of new ideas and discoveries.

In this edition of Venture, we showcase our ongoing commitment to international partnerships and research collaboration. Partnerships such as those forged in India as part of our participation in a Victorian Government trade mission earlier this year, allow us to build on our many achievements and ensure we meet the demands of the future. New insights into extreme ocean events and their impact on weather and climate change being developed at our Hawthorn and Sarawak (Malaysia) campuses, are an example of our agility and depth of excellence in shaping partnerships and research that deliver meaningful outcomes. We have also embarked on a new endeavour, launching the Swinburne Leadership Institute to explore and encourage sustainable leadership in Australia and the Asia-Pacific. Through the institute, we will engage the broader community in discussion of critical leadership issues. It will be built on a solid foundation of research as well as delivering high-impact executive programs, master classes and postgraduate courses. I hope you enjoy this edition of our magazine.

Professor LiNda KRisTjaNsON VIce-cHANceLLoR SWINbURNe UNIVeRSITy of TecHNoLoGy

INdIA joINS eLecTRIc VeHIcLe ReSeARcH A new international research program utilising Indian electric vehicle manufacturing expertise and resources aims to increase the uptake of alternative energy transport. The program brings together researchers and resources from jaypee University of Information Technology (jUIT), Swinburne’s faculty of engineering and Industrial Sciences and the Melbourne-based co-operative Research centre for Advanced Automotive Technology (AutocRc). Mr chetan Maini, chief of Strategy and Technology at Mahindra Reva electric Vehicles in bangalore, has joined Swinburne as entrepreneurin-Residence. Mr Maini’s technical expertise and business acumen will assist Swinburne to develop electric vehicle research that can be translated into industrial products, education and training.

GRANdMoTHeRING IN THe 21ST ceNTURy In her latest book, Swinburne emeritus Professor Sue Moore celebrates what it means to be a grandmother in Australia today. Researched and written in collaboration with University of Melbourne emeritus Professor doreen Rosenthal, New Age Nanas, draws on in-depth interviews and surveys with more than 1200 grandmothers to present their rich and diverse experiences and expectations, along with advice and commentary from the authors’ expertise in developmental and social psychology and experience as grandmothers. Published by Big Sky Publishing

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fINdING coMMoN GRoUNd Local filmmaker Hollie fife has garnered international acclaim for her documentary common Ground, which won best foreign Short at this year’s california film Awards. common Ground is a collaboration between Swinburne graduate Hollie and Uncle bob Randall, an Indigenous desert man, addressing the issue of environmental sustainability from an Aboriginal perspective. The film, produced in 2011 as a final year project, has screened in 16 film festivals, winning several awards and has been picked up by an educational film distributor.

a galaxy cluster far, far away

PUbLic LecTURes

hot august dates A team of astronomers has discovered the most distant example of a galaxy cluster lying in the middle of one of the most well-studied regions in the sky. “Our galaxy cluster is observed when the universe was only three billion years old,” says Swinburne astrophysicist Dr Lee Spitler.

the public are invited to join these and other swinburne scientists at our free public lectures celebrating national science week in august 2012.

“This means it is still young and should continue to grow into an extremely dense structure containing many more galaxies.” The discovery of this system at such an early stage of the universe will help astronomers understand how galaxies are influenced by their environment.

emerald-cut galaxy discovered

Safer SkieS While helicopters are used extensively in civil aviation in Australia, there has been relatively little research into key factors to improve performance and safety compared to fixed-wing aircraft. Recognising the gap, Swinburne recently opened Australia’s first research facility equipped with simulators capable of replicating flight in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Researchers will use the helicopter simulator to replicate flight in various models and flight situations to monitor both experienced and trainee pilots experiencing typical stressors and challenges such as fatigue, poor visibility and inexperience.

Are these ‘toys’ good or bad for a child’s development? join infant developmental psychologist dr jordy Kaufman, director of the Swinburne baby Lab, in a discussion on what is known and still to be learned about the impact of these devices on young children. talk about up-closeand-personal

did you know the average human carries ten times as many foreign bodies than human cells? Get to know the freeloaders you are carrying in this entertaining evening with microbiologist Professor Linda blackall.

join astronomers from swinburne’s centre for astrophysics and supercomputing as they take stock of the state of the Universe, discussing some dark matters with plenty of dark energy. foR THe fULL PRoGRAM ANd deTAILS Go To

Dr Lee SPitLer

touchscreen apps for tots are here to stay

An international research team led by astronomers at Swinburne has discovered an exceedingly rare, rectangular-shaped galaxy (above) with a striking resemblance to an emerald-cut diamond. The discovery, by astronomers from Swinburne, Germany, Switzerland and Finland using the Subaru and Keck telescopes in Hawaii, has captured the attention of media and scientific magazines around the world. “The universe tends not to make square galaxies; they are normally spheroidal, disc-like, or lumpy and irregular”, says Swinburne’s Associate Professor Alister Graham. “This unusual galaxy is one of those things that just makes you smile because it shouldn’t exist, or rather you don’t expect it to exist.”

a pulsar planet: The keck facility has enabled landmark discoveries, many led by Swinburne astronomers.

long-distance research Nine thousand kilometres is negligible in terms of the universe but hugely significant if you are an Australian astronomer wanting to access the world’s largest ground-based optical telescopes at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Swinburne’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing is the only research group outside the United States to have up to 20 nights exclusive access to the Keck telescopes. From the Hawthorn campus, they can control the Keck telescopes over the internet for unrivalled observations of stars, planets and galaxies seen billions of years back in time. The Keck facility has enabled landmark discoveries, many led by Swinburne astronomers including observations that helped characterise a diamond planet; the discovery of a ‘galactic freak’, an extremely rare ultra-compact dwarf galaxy that could furnish the missing link in understanding how galaxies and their clusters evolve; and the discovery that giant galaxies containing billions of stars are born in much the same way as delicate snowflakes. International and Australian members of the ‘Keck family’ met at the Hawthorn campus in March to discuss and share latest research achievements from the observatory.

foR MoRe INfoRMATIoN VISIT www.swiNbURNe.edU.aU/asTRONOmy

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inspired by nature Using two wonders oF natUre, plant leaves and tea tree oil, researchers at swinbUrne are worKing to prevent inFection and improve oUtcomes For people reqUiring medical implants.


by Fiona Killman

f a droplet of rain hits a lotus leaf, it will simply roll off and few would notice that a small ‘technology miracle’ has occurred. This marvel of nature has captured the imagination of researchers at Swinburne. They believe it may hold the key to reducing the risk of infection for the millions of people who undergo implant surgery around the world each year. Working at the micro and nano-scale level with components of tea tree oil and the surface of the lotus leaf, the multidisciplinary team are developing ground-breaking techniques to change the surface of titanium implants and develop bioactive coatings to reduce the risk of infection and rejection. Led by professors Elena Ivanova and Russell Crawford, their goal is to develop a product and process that can be readily used in implant surgery. More than 1000 tonnes of titanium devices are implanted in patients worldwide every year. Titanium is not rejected by the human body, supports tissue and bone regrowth and is strong and hard wearing. However, with any implant comes the relatively high risk of infection causing the implant to fail. “The problem is that because titanium is an attractive surface for growing human tissue, it is also attractive to bacteria. We want to find a way by which we can change surfaces so they are less attractive for the

bacteria but still retain their biocompatibility,” says Professor Crawford, Dean of the Faculty of Life and Social Sciences and active researcher in surface chemistry.

“When people have to get hip implants replaced, it becomes a drain on the healthcare system. We hope our research can make a difference and reduce this pressure.”

the repercussions of bacteria

coatings replicate nature

There are many forms of bacteria that can damage and destroy titanium medical implants, with Staphylococcus aureus (Golden staph) and Escherichia coli (E. coli) two of the most common and most challenging to combat.

Plucked from nature, the surface of the lotus leaf is proving an invaluable tool.

Supported by unique imaging and analytical instruments in the university’s Advanced Technologies Centre, the team has developed new insights into how bacterial cells interact and attach to surfaces. The bacteria wet the surface by secreting an extracellular polymeric substance, which enables them to form layers as they multiply, creating a biofilm. “The bugs replicate themselves and grow. They are also very adept at modifying themselves to resist our attempts at control and continue to grow on surfaces,” Professor Crawford says. “Normal disinfection processes will often only kill the surface layer of bacteria in the biofilm. In the US, it has been reported that up to 60 per cent of implants fail because of biofilms. This impacts on an economic scale and on a personal level.

“With a lotus leaf, a droplet of water will not attach, but roll off. If we can replicate this to create very hydrophobic surfaces, any bacteria that might be present can’t wet the surface and therefore can’t attach,” Professor Crawford says. Studying the surface interactions of bacterial cells with substrate surfaces at scales of less than onemillionth of a millimetre, the research is making significant progress, assisted by the use of modified surfaces manufactured by the German applied research centre, Laser Zentrum in Hannover. “We have exposed our surfaces to different types of bacteria and have managed to deter one particularly nasty bacteria,” Crawford says. “If we are able to stop bacteria attaching on titanium surfaces, we know that these implants will be safer. We have been really fortunate with our results.” Tea tree oil is another vital component of the research, due to its ability to kill bacteria. Taken from

“We Want to find a Way by Which We can change surfaces so they are less attractive for the bacteria but still retain their biocompatibility.” professor russell crawford

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professors russell crawford and elena ivanova: researching naturally occuring substances for use in implant surgery.

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naturaL potentiaL

“We learn from nature hoW the most numerous and versatile forms of life – bacteria – evolved to be able to colonise any surface.”

animal and insect species, which also exhibit anti-bacterial, self-cleaning or highly water-repellent properties, are also under investigation. these include shark fins, gecko feet, mosquito eyes and insect wings. “it’s just amazing how much we can get from nature,” says professor crawford. “the cicada’s wings, for example, have evolved so that they naturally prevent a lot of bacteria from attaching. we also have evidence that the wings themselves will kill bacteria.”

professor elena ivanova

a plant native to Australian coastal areas, tea tree oil is used in creams, ointments, soap, shampoo, and is also a common treatment for acne, dandruff and fungal infections.

Hospitals around the world are constantly working on reducing infection rates. Antibiotics are used, air flow has been improved in surgical theatres and healthcare workers work hard to improve hygiene practices.

The Swinburne team has taken a component of tea tree oil, and used it to create a coating for titanium implants. “We have been able to use this component in a process called plasma polymerisation,” says Professor Crawford.

“The infection rate is a lot lower than it used to be,” Dr Cheng says. “If we see the results of this research at Swinburne come into the hospitals, hopefully it will be even lower.”

“It’s the coating of an active ingredient of the tea tree oil on the surface of a titanium implant. The vision is that we will one day have a device in hospitals that would allow surgeons to put this coating onto the device before it is surgically implanted. If that can be done, it will vastly reduce the risk of infection.” reducing infection rates The Alfred hospital’s Deputy Head of Infection Prevention, Dr Allen Cheng, says the research sounds promising. “This is an interesting approach. Using natural antiseptic substances, you mightn’t get so much drug resistance. We sometimes use antibiotic-loaded cement in implant patients, which helps against infection. It is used when there’s an established infection.”

each breakthrough inspires Professor Ivanova, who moved to Australia from Russia, has been researching bacterial interactions and bacterial attachment to surfaces for 10 years. She has earned international recognition for her research, including the discovery of unique strains of marine bacteria with important biotechnological properties. Professor Ivanova says the success of the titanium implant research is inspiring the team of Swinburne postgraduate students and collaborators from James Cook University in Townsville and Laser Zentrum. “It brings satisfaction because the research we are doing is useful and our group and our work is another step towards improving the quality of people’s life.

Dr Cheng says although there is less than a one per cent chance of infection with hip replacements, this is high considering the number of people that have the operation.

“Bacterial interactions and bacterial attachment onto surfaces is a fascinating area of research where we are learning from nature how the most numerous and versatile forms of life – bacteria – evolved to be able to colonise any surface.”

“If you get an infection, it’s a disaster. The patient needs months of antibiotics and the joint generally has to be taken out. Occasionally you can treat your way through it,” he says.

The power of this understanding is allowing the team to expand their research into other materials, such as polymers used in breast implants, in the hope of making a difference in the world of implant surgery. l

natural history

improving understanding and the replication of natural phenomena is an important part of research across many disciplines at swinburne, in the search for solutions to challenges faced by industry and society. swinburne professor of biomedical engineering sally mcarthur says the idea of creating new, bacteriaresistant surfaces using molecules found in nature has no boundaries. “we can move into any technology where bacteria become a problem. we can use them to coat the insides of containers that are going to have food products inside them or even coat the bilges and incorporate them into paints used on ships or marine structures in our ports and harbours.” biotechnology students at swinburne’s campus in sarawak, malaysia, are discovering microorganisms on the shoreline that are able to degrade oil by utilising it as a carbon source. in another study, postgraduate students isolated several species of fungi from mangrove plants growing in a polluted area that were able to absorb copper and zinc. “these projects, and many around the world, show that although we can’t see them with our naked eyes, microorganisms are proving that they have the potential to come to the rescue in many of the problems we face today,” says science program coordinator dr moritz mueller, associate head of science at swinburne sarawak.


impLant surgery through the ages








In the earliest known example of medical implants, the Mayan civilisation used shaped shells to replace lost teeth.

The discovery of antiseptic techniques by Joseph Lister paved the way for the use of metal inside the body to reinforce bone structures.

Controversial surgeon sir William Arbuthnot-Lane developed a system of metal screws and plates for internal fixation of bones.

Dr H Hansmann of Germany became the first surgeon to use these metal plates within the body. Early plates and screws were made of vanadium steel but this proved to be incompatible with body tissues.

Orthopaedic implant manufacturers began making products from stainless steel.

swedish orthopaedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Branemark performed the first bone implants using titanium in rabbits, observing how the bone grew, effectively adhering to the metal.

The first total hip replacement was pioneered by sir John Charnley.

1936 A cobalt alloy was introduced for orthopedic surgery.

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rolonging human life is one of science’s greatest achievements, but the holy grail of medicine would have to be arresting the deterioration in brain function, which can affect quality of life as people age. PhD candidate Matthew Pase is at the forefront of an ambitious new study to investigate whether dietary supplements can help to slow the rate of cognitive decline. The swinburne trial is timely. “Our population is growing significantly older. One of the problems with ageing is cognitive decline,” says Professor Con stough, the study’s lead investigator. He adds that ageing is the biggest predictor of dementia, which includes Alzeimer’s disease. natural remedies

Pase, along with co-directors of swinburne’s Centre for Psychopharmacology, professors stough and Andrew scholey, are focusing on the effects of a micronutrient combination designed by Professor stough on cognitive performance. The supplements are a combination of French pine bark and the Indian herb Bacopa monnieri, which both have a history of remedial application. Records of the use of Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi in sankrit) to enhance cognitive performance go back thousands of years, while French pine bark extract has a long history of use as a remedy for circulation disorders. According to Pase, this trial presents an opportunity to not just measure the efficacy of each of the supplements against a placebo, but to investigate how they work. Funded by the Australian Research Council, this double-blind trial is one of the largest of its kind, with 600 healthy volunteers aged 60 to 75 expected to participate. arteries and the brain The first step in the 12-month study is a baseline assessment of each participant, which will be used to compare subsequent data. The tests will include cognitive tasks assessing aspects of mental performance such as memory and reaction time, cardiovascular analysis including blood pressure and arterial stiffness, evaluation of mood and general health, tests for inflammation and oxidative stress, and genetic analysis. The study of arterial health and brain performance is of particular interest

save your brain

a new study explores the way dietary supplements may help to slow the rate of cognitive decline. by gabrielle pollock

to Pase. The recent winner of the Templeton Foundation Prize for his paper on the connection between arterial stiffening and cognition, as well as the Menzies Foundation scholarship in Allied Health science, which has not been awarded in this area before, Pase believes the supplements’ positive effects could be two-fold. He is researching whether improvements in cognition identified in pilot studies could be directly due to their effects on the brain, or the result of their actions on the cardiovascular system. The positive effect on cognition is just one of the possibilities which could explain the enduring use of both French pine bark and Bacopa monnieri. the greediest organ Co-director of swinburne’s Centre for Human Pyschopharmacology, Professor Andrew scholey explains further. “The brain is an extremely greedy organ. While it makes up only two per cent of the body’s weight, it consumes 20 to 30 per cent of the body’s energy.” scholey argues that any intervention which improves the delivery of glucose and oxygen to the brain, in this case, by improving the cardiovascular system, would therefore tend to positively affect brain performance. Professor scholey, with PhD student, Chris Neale, is also conducting a complementary study on the effects of the herb, Bacopa monnieri, on people over forty. This study will run over 12-week periods with a washout period in-between. “Reported effects of Bacopa on both memory and information processing seem to emerge between five and 12 weeks, which explains our shorter time frame,” he said. At the end of the 12 weeks, the study will use functional Magnetic Imaging or fMRI to measure the effects of Bacopa on cognitive function. According to Professor scholey, swinburne’s Centre for Human Psychopharmacology is now the biggest group of its kind looking into natural medicines and their effects on human brain function. l

The centre is inviting volunteers to participate in either the 12-month or 12-week trials. For information visit lss/chp

“the brain is an extremely greedy organ. While it makes up only tWo per cent of the body’s Weight, it consumes 20 to 30 per cent of the body’s energy.” professor andrew scholey

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ocean engineering

Swinburne leads an international conversation about predicting and protecting against extreme weather events.

perfect  storm


our of the world’s seven tropical cyclone formation basins directly affect Australia and South-East Asia. The impact of these severe storms can be devastating to local communities and nations both in terms of injury, loss of life and property damage.

Satellite data and sophisticated computer modelling has significantly improved knowledge of how these extreme weather systems develop and their behaviour in the past 20 to 30 years. However, predicting cyclone intensity remains a challenge which is impacting on efforts to better protect people and property, according to Professor Alexander Babanin. “Apparently some physics is missing,” says Babanin, Director of Swinburne’s Centre for Ocean Engineering, Science and Technology, based at the Hawthorn campus in Melbourne. Surprisingly, what’s missing are waves. Currently wave physics exists only as an outlying parameter in the vast majority of climate models. But sufficiently large waves that occur in extreme events, like tropical storms and cyclones, can mix the upper layer of the ocean with the cooler deeper parts, exchanging heat and carbon dioxide with the atmosphere which affects weather and climate. It’s this desire to better protect people, property and the environment by patching and refining the science behind current large-scale weather and climate

predictions that is the unifying theme of much of the centre’s research at both the Hawthorn campus in Melbourne and Sarawak campus in Malaysia.

Big storms aren’t the only cause of large waves. The same mechanisms that cause the formation of windgenerated waves may help explain a maritime legend. nine-storey waves In 1995 marine scientists and engineers were presented with proof of a monster. Video and lasers measured a 26-metre (nine storeys) high rogue wave passing the Draupner oil platform in the North Sea. Improbably rare, freakishly tall waves once regarded as unlikely myths were suddenly acknowledged to be all too real. But extreme wave heights are not simply the result of waves adding together to form bigger waves. Babanin and his colleagues were investigating the non-linear mechanisms which are responsible for the formation, steepness and breaking of wind-generated waves in the open ocean. They found their model could also account for the formation of rogue waves up to 30 metres (10 storeys) tall. Rogues waves are not tsunamis. A tsunami is a vast displacement of water caused by earthquake or submarine landslide. Tsunamis are rarely noticeable in the open ocean, but can wreak havoc over huge areas only when the volume of fast-moving water

approaches the shore. Rogue waves are almost the opposite. They usually arise in open sea, are very localised and very noticeable. The giant wave described in Sebastian Junger’s book The Perfect Storm and later depicted in the movie of the same name, was a rogue wave. In 2004 the European Space Agency suggested rogue waves associated with severe weather were the mostly likely cause of the loss of 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length during the last two decades. oFFsHore engineering Swinburne lecturer and researcher in water, port engineering and oceanography, Dr Alessandro Toffoli, found when a stable group of waves enters an ocean current, it can trigger processes that cause one wave in the group to rapidly increase in size and go rogue. This helps highlight likely rogue wave areas beyond the known trouble spots like Cape Agulhas of South Africa, Kuroshio off Japan and the Gulf Stream off the eastern United States. “The work we’ve done is very much theoretical; in principle it can be applied in offshore engineering, for example. As we’re predicting rogue waves, this has safety implications for marine operations, but it can also help design practices to properly account for the wave-load on structures.”

by James Hutson

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ocean engineering

rogues waves are not tsunamis ...

rogue waves are almost the opposite. they usually arise in open sea, are very localised and very noticeable. the giant wave described in sebastian Junger’s book The Perfect Storm and later depicted in the movie of the same name, was a rogue wave. Professor Alexander Babanin, Director of Swinburne’s Centre for Ocean Engineering, Science and Technology

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ocean engineering

around the globe spanning 23 years from 1985 to 2008, recently developed by the Swinburne team of Babanin, Professor Ian Young, now Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, and Dr Stefan Zieger.

“today tHe average HeigHt oF tHe top one per cent oF waves oFF soutH-west australia’s coastline is around six metres. tHat’s over one metre HigHer tHan in 1985.”

The study found the change especially true of the high winds and the big waves. For extremely high winds, speed increased by a yearly average of 0.75 per cent. In some parts of the ocean, extreme waves increased by up to one per cent per annum. “For example, today the average height of the top one per cent of waves off south-west Australia’s coastline is around six metres. That’s over one metre higher than in 1985,” Babanin says. Future researc researcH

Professor Alexander Babanin

It is this relatively frequent risk that rogue waves pose to offshore infrastructure that has industry’s attention. Woodside, a Swinburne ocean engineering partner, manages platforms and pipelines in sites such as the North West shelf that must be designed and engineered to withstand not just rogue waves every few years, but one in five thousand year events. Swinburne’s predictions can calculate maximum wave heights, which will determine the design of offshore platforms and can also advise as to the day-to-day wear and tear of ordinary wave interactions. This is particularly useful if local wave patterns begin to vary under the influence of climate change. And there is no doubt, the oceans are changing. bigger waves, Faster winds The most comprehensive study of its kind has recently found that oceanic wind speeds and wave heights increased significantly over the last 25 years. Swinburne and Australian National University researchers used satellite altimeter data sets from

Babanin has a clear vision of where the centre’s research will lead. “Right now small-scale wave physics and large-scale climate modelling exist separately. To improve prediction, large-scale models will have to be coupled with wave models. Right now very few centres have taken this approach. In 10 years it will be everyone.”

tHe big blow

australia’s cyclone timeline

Each summer, on average 11 to 12 tropical cyclones form in the Australian region. Based on Bureau of Meteorology records, here is a timeline of the most powerful and destructive tropical cyclones to hit Australia since Cyclone Tracy obliterated Darwin in 1974.

As these integrated models are improved and refined, he hopes they can be used to inform other oceanographic disciplines like ecology. Ocean and atmospheric mechanisms don’t occur in isolation. Rainfall and drift affect sedimentation, changes in wave climate affect the movement of nutrients and these in turn impact on the biodiversity and sustainability of a marine community.

christmas Day December 1974

Swinburne is bringing this expertise to discussions with some 50 collaborating research groups across Australia, Europe, North America and Asia, including Malaysia, where the university has a campus. Malaysia has low-lying coast regions, diverse and productive ocean environments and offshore extractive industries, all of which are vulnerable to extreme weather and changes in the climate. The insights gained through Swinburne’s Centre for Ocean Engineering, Science and Technology’s work may open up new monitoring, research and consulting opportunities with benefits for communities and industry in the region and beyond. l

bobby kills eight people (including seven on two fishing trawlers) as it sweeps across northwest australia’s coast from Darwin to exmouth.

tracy kills 71 people and flattens more than 90 per cent of Darwin’s houses.

march–april 1978 alby kills five people in Western australia and causes widespread property and environmental damage.

February 1995

march 1997 Justin, after killing at least 30 people in papua new guinea, causes the deaths of five people offshore when their yacht is destroyed and two people on land with major damage between cairns and townsville in Queensland.

march 2006 larry, the season’s 17th cyclone to form in the region crosses the Queensland coast just south of cairns. no lives are lost but damage to farmland reaches a record $1.5 billion.

april 2006

wave energy Dr Richard Manasseh is a mechanical engineer specialising in vibrations, waves and oscillations in fluids. A newcomer to swinburne, manasseh’s background is ideal for applying the wave physics and climate modelling knowledge of Babanin and his team to the fundamental mechanical engineering of wave-energy harnessing devices. Here he outlines a few of the challenges.

The amount of energy available from waves is vast. Waves dump power on the Great Australian Bight coastline equivalent to over 50 Snowy Mountains hydroelectric schemes. But waves are not like wind. Wave momentum reverses direction (reciprocates) continually and no two waves are the same. They vary wave to wave and day to day. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in practice it is. So while simple, land-based, one direction at a time wind power has windmill-like turbines, wave power still has no such standard device. You also have the added difficulties of having to ship wave power devices offshore, deploy and maintain them in big seas and stop them from becoming fouled by marine organisms.

Swinburne’s Centre for Ocean Engineering, Science and Technology’s wave physics research provides invaluable data about likely wave heights, location and the complicated mix of wave frequencies and wavelengths that the devices must be tuned to in order to work efficiently. Once wave-power devices are deployed in sufficient numbers in one location, Swinburne’s modelling should also help predict what the resulting removal of wave energy will do to local currents and conditions. And even when physics and engineering challenges are solved, wave power devices will require appropriate and coordinated testing, standards and government regulation.

monica, the strongest cyclone recorded in australia before yasi, with sustained wind speeds of 155 miles per hour hit remote northern cape york peninsula causing property loss estimated at $6.6 million and devastating vegetation across 7000 square kilometres.

February–march 2007 george kills three people and causes $8 million property damage to port hedland and numerous isolated mining camps in northwest australia.

march 2010 ului was one of the fastest intensifying tropical cyclones on record and caused Queensland infrastructural damage estimated at $20 million and agricultural losses of $60 million.

January–February 2011 yasi built to be the most intense and widespread cyclone recorded. Queensland authorities estimated the property loss at $3.5 billion. remnants of yasi, as a tropical low, caused widespread floods devastating communities and property across Queensland, new south Wales, Victoria and south australia.

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stuDents toDAy Are not Just well-reAD, But well-trAvelleD.

aravindHan ganesan

PhD stuDent (ComPutAtionAl CHemistry & BioPHysiCs) Who? Ganesan just returned from six months on a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship with his external supervisor. The Pondicherry-born student also won a joint Victorian Government – Swinburne India Doctoral Scholarship in 2011. Where? German Research School of Simulation Sciences in Juelich, in Professor Paolo Carloni’s Computational Biophysics Laboratory. When? October 2011 – March 2012. Why? To carry out a collaborative research project, as a part of my PhD, on the hybrid QM/MM molecular dynamics simulations of some aromatic amino acids in the bulk water systems using the ‘state-of-the-art’ CPMD code. Such studies are useful for insight and understanding of the structures and stabilities of proteins in aqueous environments that are relevant for drug discovery. What now? I am back at Swinburne, continuing to work on my PhD thesis, which I anticipate submitting later this year, and working on manuscripts with results obtained from exchange. What next? I will keep looking for opportunities where I can use my skills to explore science, expanding my knowledge and experience. What did you gain? It was an amazing experience to work within Carloni’s research group. I got the necessary research training and support within the group that helped me to carry out my simulations without much difficulty. The results from the simulations are interesting and it will make my PhD thesis stronger and expand my research opportunities for the future. This international exchange program will remain an important milestone in my career. This visit also helped me to learn about the German culture, people and language, and I took this chance to also see some of my dream destinations, like Paris.

going global

in today’s global society, increasing numbers of university students are seeking international experience to advance their career prospects, develop personal skills and attributes, and build their professional and personal networks. At Swinburne, students have a diverse choice of overseas study and research opportunities through a global network of 95 universities, as these three students highlight.

cHiara paviolo

PhD stuDent (BiomeDiCAl engineering; BiointerfACe engineering AnD AnAlysis) Who? With a masters in biomedical engineering from the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy, Paviolo researched stem cells at Lausanne, Switzerland, before coming to Swinburne. Where? I am working at the University of Sheffield (Kroto Research Institute – development of bionic eye technology) with Professor John Haycock, partly funded by Nanoventures Australia. When? Since September 2011. Why? I’m undertaking a period of research abroad in order to gain exposure to a research area that is not covered at Swinburne, but is still part of my PhD topic – Optical Stimulation of Nerves: Towards Non-invasive Bionics. What next? I’m coming back to Melbourne to write up and graduate. What did you gain? Going abroad is a great opportunity to learn new techniques and to acquire novel experience. Being in contact with a new environment taught me how to interact with different people and projects, and how to share my knowledge with the others. Also, the limited period of time motivated me to be focused.

suHailaH davies

BACHelor of Arts (JAPAnese) BACHelor of Business Where? Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan. When? Semester One, 2011. Why? I took advantage of Swinburne’s international exchange program to enhance my Japanese skills. I wanted to be able to graduate and say I was fluent. What are you doing now? Working at Toyota Australia as part of their Graduate Recruitment Program. What next? To continue to develop my skills and career at Toyota and hopefully have the opportunity to travel internationally with my career. What did you gain? After coming home, I had developed increased intercultural and language skills, independence and some fantastic friends from around the word! My Japanese improved more in six months than it had in the previous 10 years of study. Our lecturers in Australia often said that we needed to think in Japanese to speak it well. When I returned home, I found thinking in English difficult! l

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Dr Dori Tunstall, international branding expert and Associate Professor of Design Anthropology, and Associate Dean Learning and Teaching in Swinburne’s Faculty of Design.

illuminating human nature

Branding permeates all aspects of modern life. So much so, that in one sense we barely notice it. But the power of brands and our relationship to them actually speaks volumes about who we are as individuals, even if we can’t quite articulate why. by virginia millen

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design anthropology


ur relationship to brands is born of a need to identify and therefore connect, says Dr Dori Tunstall, international branding expert and Associate Professor of Design Anthropology, and Associate Dean Learning and Teaching in Swinburne’s Faculty of Design. “Human beings are social and as social beings it’s important to have a sense of belonging.

“I can travel anywhere in the world, for example, and meet someone who has had a Coca-Cola. We can then share stories about the other experiences we’ve had around drinking Coca-Cola and it’s not about the brand, per se. It’s through this feeling we have for this product, which is given a label – Coca-Cola. What brands do so effectively is tap into a need to belong. Through this feeling we have for a product, which is given a label, we can actually connect with each other and it is this connection that draws us to branding,” she says. Historically, people used tattoos, rings and colour to classify and identify themselves, and ultimately this hasn’t changed over time. “Our categories of jewellery and tattooing going back thousands and thousands of years has been about visually telling a story about ourselves that allows someone to figure out who we are and how they should respond to us,” says Dr Tunstall.

about different levels of social integration – the scale of human organisation and interaction – and one of them is chiefdom. “Where our chief in older times would have been an individual, today those chiefs are corporations. And just like a chief, corporations have to make you notice them. They have to distinguish themselves from other corporations and promise us things that make us feel that our sense of wellness will be fulfilled by following them. So modern branding is just that expression that used to be at the scale of an individual but is now at the scale of a corporation.” In other words, our need to connect and identify with a ‘higher power’ hasn’t changed, what has changed is what we are connecting with. In Dr Tunstall’s opinion brands are not going to go away, but there is a powershift taking place in the way that we relate to them. changing the cOnversatiOn “I think brands as a concept will not change. We will always have mechanisms by which we can identify why we chose certain products versus another one. But a lot of things are happening around the tools of communication that will allow for that interactive dialogue, meaning the relationship between people and their brands can be much more rich,” she says.

ded n a r B

“The desire to express ourselves in ways that are quick is not just expression for self-expression’s sake, we express ourselves in these ways because it gives people clues as to how they should interact with us. The thing that becomes trickier now is that in some ways we’re much more savvy in playing with the meaning of those brands. This means that some of the ways we use brands is less effective because we subvert the meaning in a lot of ways.” FOllOw the chieF Originally from the United States, Dr Tunstall’s area of expertise has existed professionally for about 20 to 25 years. Design anthropology explores the meaning of objects and the making of them, as well as our relationship to them. To explain how we relate to brands, Dr Tunstall uses an example from one of her favourite books, Thinking with Things by Esther Pasztory. The author writes

This is largely a result of the emergence of social media. Brands are now responding to mass reactions of consumers online. Dr Tunstall cites the example of The Gap. In late 2010 the clothing giant launched a new logo that it was forced to scrap days later due to the backlash it received from customers online. Although a logo is only a visual representation of the brand itself, which is essentially the communication strategy of a company, this example demonstrates the depth of the connection we have to brands. “In the future the rapidness of that dialogue and the speed with which those brands will have to adapt and adjust to those who ‘belong’ to them will only increase,” she says. “People will really have a truer sense of how they can actually influence companies. The disconnect from the corporation will become less in the future because our relationship with the brand will require the corporation to be more accountable to the people who ‘belong’ to it. “And that is a really exciting way to think about the future of this kind of relationship with brands.” l

“where Our chieF in Older times wOuld have been an individual, tOday thOse chieFs are cOrpOratiOns. and just like a chieF, cOrpOratiOns have tO make yOu nOtice them.” Dr Dori Tunstall

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Dr Joseph Ciorciari specialises in how the biology of personality and thinking style impact decision making.

neurOMAnTIC Marketers are using neuroscience to create advertising which speaks directly to your brain. by Virginia Millen

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ow do you decide which running shoes to buy? Why do you prefer the iPhone over all other smart phones? Why did smokers crave a cigarette after watching an ad designed to turn people off smoking, while non-smokers were disgusted by it? These are the questions advertisers, marketers and market researchers are constantly faced with and Swinburne Neuroscience Professor Richard Silberstein has some of the answers. Neuromarketing or consumer neuroscience is a relatively new area of research that combines neuroscience with market research. It uses brainmeasuring technology to find out what consumers really think of advertising. Until recently, market research companies had access to limited methods to assess the effectiveness of an ad. According to Professor Silberstein, these methods rely on assessment using the right hemisphere of the brain, which focuses on details and specifics, to explain why we did or didn’t like an ad. “Basically, the current research tools that people are using for market research are good for fact-based ads, but they are no good for advertising that is more creative and emotional, which we are getting more and more of,” he says. “More and more advertising is directed at emotion. People are very poorly aware of their emotional processes and it’s even harder to vocalise or express them.” BrAIn-MeAsurIng TeCHnOlOgy

Research is proving that emotions are the most powerful drivers of our decision-making. But there’s another reason why advertising is working to appeal to our emotions. And that is due to heavy competition between brands that have little to set them apart, except for our emotional connection to them. Take a tube of toothpaste, for example. Why do some people buy Colgate Total White Stripe over Macleans Ultimate White Ice Sensation? Professor Silberstein explains we make these decisions based on emotion, not fact. It is important to note, however, that there are some cases when rational processes come in to play. People will often choose a home loan, for example, based on the lowest interest rate a bank can offer. Professor Silberstein’s company Neuro-Insight uses a technology invented at Swinburne called Steady State Topography (SST) to measure the effectiveness of a


piece of commercial communication by tracking rapid changes in the speed of neural processing in different parts of the brain. “When a part of the brain becomes more active it tends to process neural information faster. SST is probably the only technology that can measure that particular feature of brain response,” he says. “The right hemisphere of our brain is concerned with imagery, but also with the emotional connection and that’s the one that’s hard to get at by using traditional market research methodologies.”

who has taught in the biomedical sciences, biomedical engineering and psychophysiology undergraduate, honours and postgraduate programs, and is the program coordinator for the undergraduate psychology/psychophysiology course at Swinburne. TArgeTed AdverTIsIng Examining consumer behaviour through the prism of these personality types allows marketers to better target advertising. Dr Ciorciari and Dr Gountas have done studies on advertisements designed to curb the road toll. “We did a couple of studies on young men watching these ads, using an EEG technique called LORETA, which looks at the source of where the electrical activity is emanating from the brain. It gives you a better estimation of which region is involved in decision-making,” says Dr Ciorciari.

SST can measure if an ad is being stored in our longterm memories – probably the most important aspect of judging whether an ad is effective or not. “One of our measures for advertising effectiveness is if there is a high level of memory encoding during either the key message of the ad or during the branding of the ad,” says Professor Silberstein. The company can also “If you want measure whether the subject likes or to put together a dislikes something, their engagement better ad, you can work with the ad, and emotional intensity out where the negative experienced while watching an ad. bits are, based on “When you put all of that together neuroscience.” we can give a profile of psychological processes and we can see how they change on a second-by-second basis. “We can give an insight into the mind and emotions of the people a company is trying to communicate with. We can tell not what are people thinking, but how people are thinking,” says Professor Silberstein. yOur deCIsIOn-MAkIng persOnAlITy Swinburne’s Dr Joseph Ciorciari has been working in the same area, but specialises in how the biology of personality and thinking style impact decision-making. Through their joint research, Dr Ciorciari and Dr John Gountas, from Murdoch University, recently found that there is a neurobiological validation for the four broad personality types Dr Gountas believes each of us lean towards when making decisions. These four personality types are logical, pragmatic, emotional and imaginative. “When we make a decision we have a dominant personality [thinking style] and we may shift to another depending on the impact our environment is having on us,” says Dr Ciorciari, a senior lecturer

The research showed that certain ads caused young men to completely switch off. “The ads had absolutely no impact. We didn’t find memory systems activating. We saw systems working because they were watching, but the information wasn’t getting in.”

However, one ad shown to the men took a completely different approach. “It pulled on the heart strings, it gave the young men who were watching it an opportunity to see the suffering of those who were left behind. It was extremely effective,” says Dr Ciorciari. The ability of consumer neuroscience to determine whether an ad is effective is the reason more corporations, including Google, Coca-Cola and General Motors are using it to influence consumer attitudes. “If you want to put together a better ad, you can work out where the negative bits are, based on neuroscience. You can then better construct the ad to help maintain attention, to make it more effective,” says Dr Ciorciari. This technology and research is illuminating the human mind and our decision-making processes. It offers insight into the most effective ways companies can communicate with us and helps scientists and advertisers to understand what resonates, and therefore what is most powerful. It is shaping advertising. l

“We CAn gIve An InsIgHT InTO THe MInd And eMOTIOns Of THe peOple A COMpAny Is TryIng TO COMMunICATe WITH. We CAn Tell nOT WHAT Are peOple THInkIng, BuT HOW peOple Are THInkIng.” Professor Richard Silberstein


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future technology

TAKING THE HEAT Recent developments at OneSteel have significantly reduced the energy – and cost – required to recycle steel, a timely breakthough for the Australian steel industry.

by Steve Packer

PhD student Morshed Alam (left) and Andrea Fontana, technical superintendent at OneSteel.

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future technology


very 42 minutes OneSteel taps 83 tonnes of molten steel from the electric arc furnace at its recycling plant in Laverton, Melbourne. The process requires a lot of energy to achieve temperatures of around 1600 degrees Celsius. In fact, the plant is the biggest single consumer of electricity in Melbourne.

“This is very good research for young engineering students. They can contribute a lot with the new software tools they have at the university. We don’t have them in-house, or the knowledge to use them, and because we are mostly focusing on day-to-day production, we don’t have much time to spend on the theoretical side.”

Fontana says the most recent student work is Five years ago Swinburne researchers started resulting in energy savings of about 1.6 gigawatt working with OneSteel engineers to lower hours a year (equivalent to just over 3000 the energy required. It has proved to 60-watt lightbulbs burning for a year). be an extremely challenging task, There have also been concrete results Student work involving complex mathematical in terms of reducing cycle times. is resulting in energy descriptions and computer savings of about 1.6 He is now looking at applying the modelling of what goes on unseen gigawatt hours a year advances at OneSteel’s other recycling inside the furnace, before working (equivalent to just over plants in Sydney and Newcastle. out how the process can be 3000 60-watt The plants recycle scrap steel sourced finetuned in practice. lightbulbs burning mainly from demolished light industrial for a year.) “But last year we had spectacular buildings, crushed car bundles, results,” says Professor Geoffrey discarded whitegoods, and old rail tracks Brooks, who leads Swinburne’s high and wagons. The recycled steel is suitable temperature processing research and for all steel products and uses about half the energy education. “OneSteel has cut its energy use by 1 to 2 required to manufacture ‘virgin’ steel products, per cent, and that’s quite a lot because they were Professor Brooks says. already running a reasonably efficient operation. “It’s good for the bottom line, but it’s also good in terms of greenhouse gases emission. And it’s a really nice example of how our students work with industry to improve operations.” THEory, TEcHNoloGy, NEw IdEAs GET rEsulTs While PhD student Morshed Alam looked at supersonic oxygen injection as a form of chemical energy (see breakout), undergraduate students Damien Muschamp and Jake McClellan did theoretical work on energy and mass balance in electric arc furnaces for their final year thesis. On completing a literature review of prior articles, papers and theoretical material, the students sat down with OneSteel engineers to discuss how their recommendations could be applied at Laverton. The students then analysed the results of their recommended processing changes. “It was very satisfying for us to have the opportunity to make recommendations to a board of engineers who have been in the steel industry for years, then to hear that they are getting cost savings from implementing them,” says Muschamp. He was recruited by the water treatment products division of Orica Limited this year after graduating, while McClellan has joined the asset engineering team at Boral Resources. OneSteel technical superintendent Andrea Fontana has high praise for the seven Swinburne students he has worked with.

THrEATENEd INdusTry NEEds NEw THINKING Professor Brooks, who has been in steelmaking research for nearly 20 years, stresses the importance of innovation for Australia’s metals industry. “Australia’s metallurgical industry is struggling with the high value of the Australian dollar and the enormous expansion of industrial output from China into world markets,” he says. “I think these pressures will drive innovation. We need to think about how our R&D into metals production will equip Australian industry for the future. We need to be smarter, not just in metals production but also in the manufacture of high-value goods where we are not competing with China.” The World Steel Association reports that world crude steel production has doubled since 1998, reaching 1527 million tonnes in 2011, a 6.8 per cent increase on the previous year. China had the lion’s share with 45.5 per cent. “To give you a sense of what that means in terms of new steel plants opening, the plant at Wollongong can make about five million tonnes a year at peak production, so that is like building the equivalent of one of Australia’s largest steel manufacturing plants 150 times over since 1998,” says Brooks. “When a country starts closing good, efficient steel plants, it’s not a good sign at all for its economy.” l

“IT’s Good for THE boTTom lINE ... ANd IT’s A rEAlly NIcE ExAmplE of How our sTudENTs worK wITH INdusTry To ImprovE opErATIoNs.” Professor Geoffrey Brooks

rocKET To succEss

When Swinburne PhD student Morshed Alam was working on the effects of injecting supersonic gas into OneSteel’s recycling furnace, it occurred to him that, in a literal sense, it is rocket science. The obvious people to contact to swap notes were the space program scientists at NASA in the United States. “Before emailing them, I wondered if they would reply because they must be very busy,” he says. “But I was surprised and excited to receive a reply within a day. They were very helpful.” Alam conversed with senior scientist Steven Massey at NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Virginia. It quickly became apparent that NASA’s model and Alam’s model had a major difference: with rockets, the combustion gases go from very hot to atmospheric temperatures, and for Alam it was the other way around. “I corrected their temperature-corrected turbulence model for my case and it worked well,” says Alam. His results are described in the paper ‘Computational Fluid Dynamics Modelling of Supersonic Oxygen Jet Behaviour at Steelmaking Temperature’, published in the journal Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B in June 2010. Alam came to Australia from Bangladesh four years ago to do his PhD under the supervision of Associate Professor Jamal Naser and Professor Brooks. It was funded by a Swinburne scholarship, with in-kind technical support from OneSteel, which also paid for a study trip to a university in Canada. He’s now working on a post-doctoral project at Swinburne, aimed at reducing energy consumption in aluminium processing.

sImpsoN’s lEGAcy the late robert Simpson, one of Australia’s leading furnace engineers, continues to have an impact on the metals industry. Improving the sustainability of the metals industry is the major focus of a hightemperature research and teaching facility established largely through a donation in memory of the Swinburne alumnus. recent progress in collaboration with oneSteel, draws on the laboratory’s cutting-edge simulation, analysis and mathematical modeling technologies and the sophisticated understanding of the complex smelter processes developed by the Swinburne high-temperature processing research team and their international colleagues.

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InnovatIon resCUe

Breathing new life into australian manufacturing

Large sectors of Australian industry will need to transform their business models to succeed in today’s economic environment, says Göran Roos, Swinburne Professor in Strategic Design.


t’s a message professor göran roos has been giving to australian business groups and governments in the past 12 to 18 months as the country’s manufacturing and retail sectors grapple with the changing global and local economic environments. “over the last three to five years, australia has gone from being a low- to medium-cost environment to a high-cost environment, between 20 and 50 per cent more expensive than the us, depending on how you measure,” roos says. “in fact, only the nordic and germanic countries have had a higher cost environment for longer.” a major contributor to thinking and practice in the areas of strategy and innovation management, as well as industrial and innovation policy, roos says manufacturing success in a low-cost environment is focused on efficiency and cost reduction. in contrast, the primary basis for competitive success in a high-cost environment is value for money arrived at through competitive advantages grounded in constant innovation approached in an integrated way. ProductIvIty ImProvement Product

“australian companies are competent at technology-based innovations, but they will need to vastly improve to compete in the current economic environment.”

For more information, references and the full article ‘what it takes to succeed in a high-cost operating environment’ by Göran Roos visit

according to roos, productivity is key in both high- and low-cost regions. “however, australia’s productivity improvement has remained low over the past 10 years – about half of the comparable improvements in the us and in the european manufacturing belt. at the same time labour unit cost has increased by about 2.5 per cent per year in australia, while it has decreased by about 1 per cent per year in the us and in the european manufacturing belt. “the “ present problem for large sectors of australian industry is that they place too little emphasis on productivity improvements, valuecreating innovations, and investment in innovation enablers – such as ict, design, organisational structures, brand, continuous employee training, and management capacity – compared to the emphasis on efficiency improvements.” Integrated InnovatIon his view is based on a concept he developed through extensive study of common practice in successful firms. called integrated innovation, it comprises five key dimensions

which, when all present and deployed effectively, increase the likelihood of a business’ success in a high-cost environment. these are securing and optimally deploying enablers of innovation, articulating an innovation strategy, implementing an innovation management system, producing value-creating innovations and producing value-appropriating innovations. roos says while australian firms tend to be excellent at reactive problem solving, they lack proactive innovation and rarely possess an articulated innovation strategy. in contrast, firms such as those typically seen in nordic countries are poor at reactive problem solving but excellent at innovation and make a point of having both an articulated innovation strategy and a dedicated innovation management system. australian companies are competent at technology-based innovations, but they will need to vastly improve to compete in the current economic environment, he says. he draws on two recent studies that illustrate this point. a study of nordic companies found that 89 per cent of small firms develop products by combining different technologies or technical solutions not traditionally used in their industry, leading to 30 per cent of nordic firms successfully providing offerings that are new to international and domestic markets. in contrast an australian government report suggests this would apply to just 12 per cent of australian firms, he says. the role of desIgn one area of concern is australian firms’ inability to successfully integrate design into their innovation processes. this is further supported by a recent international analysis of design competitiveness, which ranked switzerland first, followed by Japan, germany and sweden, while australia trailed at position 28. roos believes regaining competitive advantage is not out of reach for the majority of australian manufacturers in the current market. “it will require high management capability and the development of many new skills to make the necessary transformation. at the end of the day, these new developments will not only improve individual businesses, but place australia in a stronger economic position.” l

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ssociate Professor Antony Tang laughingly describes himself as “a matchmaker”, and the description fits. Heading a new program aimed at encouraging collaboration between universities and small technology companies, Tang draws on more than 20 years working internationally in the software industry for private firms before completing his PhD and becoming an academic. Funded by the Victorian Government Department of Business and Innovation, and trialled early this year, the program allows companies with research and development problems to draw on Swinburne’s resources and research in information and communication technologies to address a problem. Tang chose three companies from seven applicants and assigned two students and an academic supervisor to each project. The students received a scholarship to work with their company project teams for 10 weeks during the summer break.

research & development

creatIve sParks Swinburne’s R&D accelerator program pairs students with technology businesses in need of solutions – with exciting results. by tracey evans

“It’s bringing together a range of technologies to create a very economical EDI network, which is going to be running on a single standard rather than the myriad so-called standards available at the moment,” says Field. The program proved to be perfect timing in Ozedi’s product development phase. “We didn’t have the skills or resources on board to do load testing at the time – we thought we’d do it when we got closer to going into production,” says Field. “Swinburne was interested in helping out because they had some students and researchers with an interest in this type of thing. “We’re glad we did it at that point because they found some small holes in the architecture, which we were able to plug along the way. “As they tested each component we finetuned various parts of the architecture. We fixed any bottlenecks and then moved on to the next one, until we got to the point where we could run an end-to-end transaction,” says Field. “We had pretty good throughput on this to start with, but we wound up getting something like a 300 per cent increase in improvement over those 10 weeks!

raPId Performance ImProvement It’s been an “incredibly valuable” experience says Australian EDI Ltd Director David Field, one of the program’s participants. The firm is building an electronic document interchange (EDI), called Ozedi, using the AUSkey authentication.

“It wasn’t running slow to start with, but they picked it up to blinding speed, to the point where we could get one million web services transactions an hour through it on a very basic server. We were pretty happy with the end result,” Field says. Academic supervisor for the Ozedi project and Swinburne’s Associate Dean (Information Technology), Edmonds Lau was thrilled with the students’ performance. “They were really good. They dealt with the issues very professionally and they were willing to learn, to catch up by reading a lot and talking to us.” evaluatIng rIsk areas Mike Pratt, Director of software development company Mintec, is similarly complimentary about the students’ work. “They’re enthusiastic and they bring new ideas, it brings a fresh perspective to the organisation,” he says. Mintec sought help to move a .NET desktop application to an iPad app, which records decisions made during emergency incidents for a number of fire brigades in Australia and New Zealand. Pratt says the approach by project supervisor, Swinburne Senior Lecturer, Dr Rajesh Vasa was “very effective”. “He had a method involving ‘spikes’, which evaluates risk areas first and resolves the major technical hurdles to those up front,” says Pratt. In all, the team was helpful and proficient he says. “It was good to bring in different ideas. We’re more than happy with it all and look forward to doing it again. I’d recommend that any company try it out,” Pratt says. a student’s PersPectIve For student Mai Lam, in the final semester of a master’s degree and no experience of working in industry, the Mintec project was useful. She was happy to be giving up her summer break for some income and experience that related directly to her studies. Associate Professor Antony Tang (front) with Australian EDI Ltd Director David Field (left) and Director of Mintec, Mike Pratt (right).

“We learned about working together in a team in a company and the types of procedures you have to go through to get the working application. Collaborating with other people is a really great experience that every student – no matter what their profession – will have in the future,” she says. l

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meeting of minds




When industry and universities come together, it’s a powerful combination that can accelerate innovation and create opportunities.

two case studies From rapidly evolving industries illustrate the rewards a strong relationship between industry and a university can reap.

from students to employees Fenwick soFtware

“It can cost a busIness a lot If It recruIts the Wrong person. thIs program puts prospectIve employees In front of us and We can see hoW they perform on the job.” andrew ferguson, principal consultant and director at fenwick software with swinburne’s john mcphee, manager of Industry engaged learning.

andrew ferguson

Industry placements offer obvious advantages to students; the workplace experience gained as part of their course makes them competitive in the job market and gives them confidence to step into professional careers. However, the benefits flow both ways. Businesses that engage with students often have their pick of top talent and are able to mould young employees to their corporate culture and business ethos. This in turn helps bridge the gap between academic research and commercial products to improve innovation in the market. Fenwick Software, a Melbourne-based provider of ERP systems and consulting advice to the manufacturing, distribution and service industries, became involved with Swinburne’s Bachelor of Information Technology Industry Scholarship Program more than a decade ago. Since then it has provided sponsorship and placements to more than 30 students and employment to 15 – including CEO Greg Galloway. Another current staff member is Narada Ellis, named top student in his 2010 graduating year. Fenwick offered him a part-time job on the strength of his industry placement performance and full-time work when he completed his course. “Our people are business consultants as well as software engineers. They need to be articulate and affable and able to solve complex business problems,

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meeting of minds

“research shoWs that graduates WIth Industry experIence fInd jobs more quIckly, gaIn more relevant and challengIng jobs and receIve hIgher rates of pay. thIs course puts students on a fasttrack to management.” john mcphee

as well as having a detailed grasp of technology,” says company chairman Peter Fenwick. The scholarship program awards students around $40,000 over three years, sourced from a pool of contributions made by business sponsors. The intensive degree offers the equivalent of four years of study – including two five-month placements with sponsor organisations – compressed into three full calendar years. Sponsors and students attend regular meetings and professional development networking dinners. Sponsors, who include representatives of Accenture, ANZ, Deloitte, KPMG, NAB and Seek have input into student selection and curriculum. Andrew Ferguson, principal consultant and director at Fenwick Software, chairs the scholarship program and curriculum steering committee and is a member of Swinburne’s ICT industry advisory group. In terms of Fenwick Software’s bottom line, Ferguson says the time and money invested in the relationship with Swinburne has a positive impact. “It can cost a business a lot if it recruits the wrong person. This program puts prospective employees in front of us and we can see how they perform on the job.” The company’s retention rate, which averages 10-plus years, is high in an industry notorious for high staff turnover. Industry engagement with the university also offers professional development benefits for staff of the sponsoring organisations. The flow of undergraduates and young graduates into their businesses challenges supervising employees to demonstrate leadership and mentoring skills. John McPhee, Manager, Industry Engaged Learning with the Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies, says close collaboration between academic staff and employers is critical, especially in such a dynamic industry. “It keeps our programs fresh and is good for students,” says McPhee. “Research shows that graduates with industry experience find jobs more quickly, gain more relevant and challenging jobs and receive higher rates of pay. This course puts students on a fast-track to management.” l

from phds to business partners suntech solar power Collaboration with a university can prove transformative for industry, says Professor Min Gu, director of the Victoria-Suntech Advanced Solar Facility (VSASF) at Swinburne. His group believes there is still considerable scope to improve solar cells and the way the world sources renewable energy. Its development of the world’s most efficient broadband nanoplasmonic solar cells has potential to double the efficiency and slash the cost of future solar installations. The work is being funded through a partnership between the university and Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, China’s largest solar panel manufacturer, and a grant from the Victorian Government’s Science Agenda Investment Fund. Suntech’s founder and chief executive officer, Dr Zhengrong Shi, now one of China’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, is an Australian citizen. He first became involved in solar technology while studying for his PhD at the University of New South Wales. “Collaboration between universities and industry helps to bridge the gap between high-technology research and commercial products,” Shi says. His company is at the forefront of global efforts to bring down the cost and boost the use of solar energy, and the work by Professor Gu’s research team at Swinburne could help achieve both objectives.

“unIversItIes should not only aIm to provIde solutIons to exIstIng Industry problems, they should aIm to transform the Way thIngs are done.” professor min gu

“Universities should not only aim to provide solutions to existing industry problems, they should aim to transform the way things are done. Suntech is very successful but current photovoltaic cells are near the limit of their efficiency. We are looking for a smarter, cheaper way to harness solar power. Dr Shi is a scientist and he recognises how our work could change his industry,” says Professor Gu. He argues that with an economy that is overly dependent on mining, Australia needs to be developing technologies that will help build its future wealth. Professor Gu says having early links with a manufacturer is the best way to convert research findings to practical industrial applications. The relationship between Swinburne and Suntech is strengthened by Swinburne’s hosting of PhD candidates selected by Suntech. “These individuals are funded by Suntech. They work with the company before and after their studies and will ensure that the research being undertaken here becomes truly transformational. It is a model that has been highly successful in Korea,” Professor Gu says. l

issue one 2012

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Venture issue 1 - june2012  
Venture issue 1 - june2012  

VENTURE is The magazine of Swinburne University of Technology SCIENCE | TECHNOLOGY | INNOVATION